Friday, November 27, 2015

Video of Suspected Forest Hills Arsonist Released

A video of the suspected arsonist in the several fires that have occurred in Forest Hills over the past several weeks has been tweeted by @NYCityAlerts

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Another Fire Tonight

Looks like that arsonist has struck again, targeting a house under construction at 108-43 67th Drive, in the same general area as the others...

Here's a pic the police tweeted tonight:

And one that a reader sent in:

Here's an article about these fires, apparently being attributed to one suspect:
Fire-Starting 'Ninja' Sought for String of Suspicious Forest Hills Blazes

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pictures of the Day

Some gorgeous recent sunsets from Forest Hills. Thanks to Bob and Ernie for sending in these pics. The first two are views from The Pinnacle building...

Monday, November 23, 2015

One of my favorite quotes...

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller at The Hague's Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk in May 1952

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rash of Fires Under Investigation

Six of the seven recent fires that have ravaged Forest Hills buildings in recent weeks have been deemed suspicious, according to the 112th Precinct — prompting the local police to enlist the help of the NYPD's arson unit. 
Read more about it here: Arson Unit Investigating Forest Hills Fires, Police Say

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Event! Forest Hills Winter Festival

I think the local Chamber of Commerce is calling this the "Celebrate Winter" event. It will be from 5 to 8:30 pm with a holiday lighting ceremony at 6:30. It's a great idea..  I think they should hold one in February too when it's really snowing hard, which would make for a cozier version...

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

And Yet Another Fire Tonight

This one's on 66th Avenue & 108th Street... The police say it is another residential fire of a house under construction. Thanks to Natalya for emailing in these pics. The first was tweeted by the Police tonight.

The 112th Precinct tonight tweeted: "We're aware of the recent rash of residential fires in Forest Hills We're coordinating with FDNY and other investigative authorities."

Fire in Forest Hills Injures Two This Morning

An early morning fire today at the Normandy apartment building at 106-15 Queens Blvd., located between Jewel Ave. and Queens Blvd., has reportedly injured two people, one critically. Thanks to Dawn for sending in these photos this morning.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Confirmed! Shake Shack Coming to Forest Hills!

In what just might be the most important news for Forest Hills since the Stadium started up concerts again, Shake Shack confirmed this morning that they will be opening in the former Strawberry store location on Austin Street: Shack HQ Confirms: Queens Is Getting Another Standalone Shake Shack

Just some early thoughts as the news that this is really happening sinks in:
1) This will be awesome for the Austin St. shopping district of Forest Hills. It will bring in tons of new shoppers to the neighborhood. The lines that usually stretch outside a Shake Shack (if they materialize, and judging by the lines we already get inside our Chipotle, I'd be shocked if they didn't) will be mostly younger potential shoppers for all of the other retailers surrounding our new Shack. If these retailers are smart, they will take advantage of these crowds somehow. In fact, I hope the Shake Shack invigorates Austin Street all the way down to Ascan, an area that can especially use a boost.
2) It will also bring in tons of younger shoppers to the neighborhood, and as a result, could very well change the dynamic of the shopping we have along Austin Street, possibly attracting retailers aimed at younger shoppers.
3)  Personally, I am surprised—surprised that Shake Shack has skipped over supposedly "hipper" Queens neighborhoods like Astoria and Long Island City to open up their first stand-alone location here in Forest Hills.
But then, when I think about it more deeply, I can see why:
  •  More younger people are moving into Forest Hills
  •  There are already a ton of the younger folk here
  •  Also, pretty much every demographic seems to love Shake Shack, and we have just about every demographic living here
  •  Austin Street is an extremely attractive shopping district with just the upscale feel Shake Shack loves (though it's been struggling a bit in some regards as of late—this will put a stop to that struggling)
  •  Austin Street is easily accessible by both car and public transit, so expect people to come to Shake Shack from all around Forest Hills
  •  The Strawberry location itself is ideal for a Shake Shack. It is a two-story building with more than enough space to eat in, along with huge windows, and sits at the head of a side street, making it extremely visible to shoppers not only on Austin Street, but those coming down 71st Avenue.
I'll have more to say about this exciting development in the days and weeks to come. The only downside I see for our neighborhood is that Shake Shack has now forced me to put off my plans to become a vegetarian. I know they have a mushroom burger, and I've tried it, quite good actually. But I'm sure that those who are fans of The Shack like I am can understand why my vegan plans are now on hold.

Below is my chart of who Shake Shack will compete with and who it won't, since there's been a lot of discussion about this over on the Blog's Facebook Page. All burger places in the year 2015 are not same, anything but. We've moved way beyond the days of McDonald's versus Burger King. You may be surprised by my take on this, but you have to take into consideration the different types of consumers each burger place is trying to appeal to. Bareburger, for example, is really a health-food restaurant that just so happens to make burgers. My conclusion: they will not be competing with Shake Shack which is anything but that.

The new Shake Shake will compete with in Forest Hills:
  • Twist & Smash'd (When I had their burgers, I thought to myself they reminded me of Shake Shack.)
  • Cheeburger Cheeburger (Both chains are going for the consumer who wants to have a filling, delicious burger and isn't watching calories)

Doesn't compete with:
  • McDonald's (today, our McD's of old is anything but the premium fast food burger outlet that Shake Shack is.)
  • Bareburger (A health food restaurant with tons of different proteins and salads, along with some tasty indulgent foods. But "healthy" is the word here at Bareburger. A low-fat Bison Burger is nothing like a Shake Shack burger. Bareburger has a particular niche for those who want a healthier option and I predict they will be minimally-impacted by the new Shack. I myself will still mostly go to Bareburger since I am careful about what I eat, and when I'm in the mood for a real treat, will visit The Shack.)
  • Pubs that sell burgers (Most people don't seek out their local pubs for a burger. They go to the pub and then say, "Hmmm, I'm in the mood for a burger with my beer." Burgers are an afterthought at pubs.)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Shake Shack Update

Well, I have a follower on Twitter—with an actual name—who tells me she has heard first-hand from workers at the site of the former Strawberry on Austin Street that it is being turned into a Shake Shack. This is the strongest evidence I have so far about the rumors actually being true. I trust this long-time follower on Twitter and believe the only way this information can be wrong is if the worker didn't know what he was talking about, which would be odd indeed.

And, then there's this bizarre post today on the Queens Gazette website:
Shake Shack Coming To Forest Hills!
Jeez, if you have the information, just tell us. You're a newspaper, or, something... I don't actually know what the Queens Gazette is come to think of it.

Anyway, it looks like the proverbial cat has gotten out of the bag and the number of sources holding onto this ridiculous secret are starting to have trouble holding onto it and it is seeping out to the public. Why this is such a secret and being so closely guarded is truly one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen. What's the big freakin' deal? Just let us know already. This has been going on since at least June, with the first comments on this blog about the Shake Shack in the Strawberry location appearing back then.

In any case, I am starting to imagine a Shake Shack on Austin Street and delightful vittles like lip-smacking juicy burgers, awesome fries and indulgent shakes and desserts! Woe to my waist-line!

Logos and Stuff

I know some of you have noticed we recently got a new logo. Well it just so happens I noticed over on Instagram and Facebook that Forest Hills' neighborhood coffee shop Red Pipe is also looking for a new logo and asking everyone to vote on their favorite. The choices are below and you can vote over on their Facebook Page.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Picture of the Day

Thanks to Jeff for sending in today's Picture of the Day, taken from the rooftop of 118-17 Union Turnpike....

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Another House Fire Last Night

Thanks to Angela for sending in these photos of another house fire last night, this time at a house right near the Queens Central Y, on 108th St. and 67th Road. Coincidentally, that's pretty close to where the big blaze was Sunday night.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Picture of the Day -- And a Need for Volunteers

Thanks to Steve for the photo... and he also sent along this item:

Volunteer Day at MacDonald Park Nov 14th—Farewell to 2015
The final Volunteer Cleanup Day for 2015 is this Saturday, Nov 14th from 10:00-12:30. We need help planting new shrubs, raking leaves, pruning, and cleaning.  If you could spare just one hour or two, that would be great...  As always, gloves, tools, and refreshments will be provided. And students receive Community Service credit. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Aftermath of the Fire

Thanks to Jay for sending in these photos of the house where that enormous fire took place last night...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Shake Shack in Forest Hills

More, stronger rumors today... But no confirmation. 

If it does happen:

Competes with:
Twist & Smash'd
Cheeburger Cheeburger

Doesn't compete with:
Pubs that sell burgers

Friday, November 6, 2015

Local Restaurant News

Apparently the new restaurant Rove — brought to us by the owners of the awesome Jack & Nellie's — has had a soft opening. I saw some shots of the interior on Instagram and the place looks really nice and comfy and the food looks at least pretty darn nice as well. Rove is located in the former Bonfire Grill location, on Austin Street near the corner of Ascan.

In other news, I'm told by a loyal reader that Danny Brown has already closed. It had announced it would be closing the end of the year. But this is what the restaurant has said:

Please Note

Due to a fire in the boiler room of our building over the weekend we are temporarily closed. We are doing our best to assess the damages in order to begin the restoration process so we can re-open for service. We are not currently accepting reservations until we have a clear time line for the projected repairs.
We will continue to update you via our website and social media as we receive more information.

Picture of the Day

Since David's aerial shot of FoHi was so pretty, here's one of Manhattan I snapped myself the other night. I have to credit my new iPhone 6s for allowing for this cool pic. I think this is one of the Live Photos I shot, wherein it moves on my phone for a few seconds if you press on it. But, unfortunately, as of right now that feature doesn't work anywhere but on my phone, so you'll have to all meet me at Red Pipe to see it work!

Live Tweet Event

I'm thinking of doing a Live Tweet Event perhaps one night next week. I'd be on for an hour starting like at 8 p.m. and we can all talk live about the neighborhood. I welcome any of your thoughts about this. Would this be something you'd like to do?

You can follow me here: Twitter

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Get More Edge of the City

New Building Planned for 72nd Road

According to New York
New building applications have been filed to erect a seven-story, mixed-use building at 109-19 72nd Road, between Queens Boulevard and Austin Street. The development will replace four large houses, all of which had been altered so businesses could occupy the ground floors.
The 70-foot-tall building will host 46 apartments divided across 44,889 square feet, for nicely sized average units measuring 975 square feet. The apartments will be stacked on top of 8,280 square feet of retail, replacing some of the commercial space that will be demolished. Each of the upper floors will have eight units, except for the top floor, where there will only be six units.
A subterranean garage will have parking for 26 cars, which is slightly more than the zoning code requires.
The article ends with a really insightful comment about the Forest Hills area's current state of development—the struggle between development and those who want to maintain more of a "suburb-in-the-city" feel for Forest Hills.  And it comes down on the side of development, pointing out that Forest Hills has so much untapped potential as a hyper-connected neighborhood when it comes to public transportation in this part of Queens....
The rest of Forest Hills was downzoned twice during Mayor Bloomberg’s years in office, effectively preventing the construction of anything besides one- and two-family homes. The suburban-style zoning seems unfortunate because Forest Hills is attractive, safe, and still relatively affordable for condo and co-op buyers. The LIRR, as well E, F, M, and R trains, run through the neighborhood, making it one of the most accessible parts of central and eastern Queens.
Unfortunate, indeed.  While, as I've often written before, Forest Hills has improved by leaps and bounds when it comes to bars and restaurants since I first moved here like 15 years ago, there's still so much more room for improvement it, to coin a phrase from our most colorful presidential candidate, "can make your head spin."

Picture of the Day

Thanks to David for sending in this stunning aerial view of Forest Hills, taken as he was landing at LaGuardia. The Pinnacle, Windsor and Kennedy are all clearly visible, as is the West Side Tennis Club... Keep sending in your photos to


Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Holiday Season Begins

The CVS on the north side of Queens Blvd. wasted no time in clearing out all the unsold Halloween candy (50% off now, while supplies last) and the aisles have already been transformed into Christmas and Chanukah-land.

Request for Austin St. Halloween Pics

A reader commented that they'd love to see some of the Halloween festivities that went on on Austin Street yesterday. So if anyone has any, please email them in to

I myself was visiting with family in Manhattan yesterday and we went to the Museum of Natural History, where they turn the whole place into a spooky experience for the kids. Here's a few pics: